At the beginning of the 20th century, when 12-string guitars first appeared in the United States, the instruments were considered novelty items, curiosities, freaks of guitar making that were beneath the dignity of serious companies like Martin and Gibson. But when Blind Willie McTell picked up a Stella 12-string in 1927, and then basically never put it down, the instrument was suddenly legitimized.
A folk singer named Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly, had actually made the Stella 12-string his own earlier, in 1912, but Lead Belly had so many scrapes with the law and spent so much time in prison that he wouldn’t get a chance to popularize the ringing tones of the 12-string until the 1930s and ’40s. Even then, his biggest hit, “Good Night Irene,” came after his death in 1949.
Pete Seeger and the Weavers kept the 12-string sound alive until the 1960s, when groups like the Rooftop Singers (“Walk Right In”) made it the go-to instrument on the commercial folk scene. Gibson was ready with its B-45 in 1961 and its B-25 in 1962, while Martin got on board a bit later with its D12-20 in 1964 and D12-35 in 1965.
The loudest noise in 12-strings, though, was made by Rickenbacker, thanks to a custom, one-of-a-kind 12-string version of its 325 hollowbody electric guitar made in 1964 for John Lennon of the Beatles. George Harrison also became a Rickenbacker acolyte, playing his Rickenbacker 360 12-string on songs like "A Hard Day’s Night."
One musician who liked that sound a lot was Roger McGuinn of the Byrds. Reportedly, he bought a 360-12 after seeing the movie named after of the famous Beatles song. He went on to play a 12-string on one of the Byrds’ biggest hits, “Turn Turn Turn.”
By the late 1970s, newer companies like Taylor made acoustic 12-strings part of their lines. Once again, a key musician would cement the instrument's sound in our collective soundtrack. In this case it was Neil Young who, while vacationing in Florida, purchased a Taylor 12-string, an 855, at a local music shop. Young liked his 855 so much he ordered a second, and Taylor subsequently gained widespread recognition when Young’s 855 figured prominently in his concert film, "Rust Never Sleeps."
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Around Windham CountyBrattleboro Reformer, July 31st
Along with his 12-string guitar and his unique collection of costumed hats, masks, and disguises, he humorously educates and motivates his audiences through his spirited and interactive style of music. Throughout the performance, Kelleher's interactive ...Read more
Something Else! Interview: Punk pioneer Jeff Wolfe of the FurysSomething Else! Reviews, July 30th
Considering that he plays acoustic 12-string guitar in the Horse Soldiers, I never figured him for a bassist, but he's been involved ever since. He's a talented guy. Besides the Furys and the Horse Soldiers, he has his solo project Lane's Laire and he...Read more
The Searchers to Play the Suncoast Showroom, 9/6-7Broadway World, July 30th
The Searcher's distinctive sound was built around a crisp, 12-string guitar, later popularized by The Byrds, who borrowed The Searcher's "Needles and Pins" riff for their hit, "Feel a Whole Lot Better." Members of the current line up include founder...Read more
AMERIGLOW'S JACOB DARDEN FINDS ABSOLUTION IN THE RESTRAINT OF ...Yes! Weekly, July 30th
Then I would layer a 12-string guitar and pull it like an octave up and play the exact same riff. Then I would take a bass and play power chords, and then another bass and play it the normal way, so it's layered in steps, but playing the exact same...Read more
Taylor Guitars at 2014 Summer NAMM: 150E 12-String Guitar — Demo VideoGuitar World Magazine, July 28th
As always, several members of the Guitar World crew were on hand at the 2014 Summer NAMM Show in lovely and talented Nashville, Tennessee, taking pics, getting the latest gear news and shooting plenty of videos. While we were there, we stopped by the ...Read more
Summer NAMM 2014: New Taylor 12-StringSonic State, July 17th
Just in time for summer, Taylor Guitars has added to its popular 100 Series with the 150e, a 12-string Dreadnought guitar. They say that the 150e delivers signature Taylor tone and playability in Taylor's most affordable 12-string guitar to date...Read more
My Guitar: Fergus O'Byrne and his resilient 8-stringCBC.ca, July 12th
O'Byrne converted it from a 12-string guitar into an eight-string by removing the E,A, D and G strings. This conversion allowed the guitar to be played finger-pick style like a conventional six-string while still retaining the orchestral sound of a 12...Read more
Here's a guitarist who just needs one string to jamPublic Radio International, July 7th
When the rest of the world is playing a six- or 12-string guitar, don't think you've failed if what you end up mastering is a one-string guitar. That's exactly what happened to a Jamaican musician who goes by the name Brushy One-String. His dad was...Read more